The Bravely series has finally arrived on Switch but how does it live up to its predecessors? Adventure with me and let's find out.
Bravely Default II is a sequel in the Bravely series but it has its own unique characters and story which sets it apart from Bravely Default and Bravely Second. First, we meet Seth, a sailor who finds himself washed ashore after a terrible storm then Gloria enters the scene who's a princess looking to restore 4 crystals that have been taken from their rightful place. After deciding to team up, the 2 bump into Elvis and Adelle; what a fun music mash-up that would be! Anyway, Elvis hired Adelle to help him on his journey to understand a book that his mentor left for him.
While first playing Bravely Default II, I was surprised to find that there was only slots for 4 main characters until I remembered that the previous games had the same setup and the limit in characters actually works quite nicely with the vast amount of jobs available and with each character being able to mix and match from learned jobs. It's always more enjoyable when an RPG forces you to really make the most of each character's setup instead of having so many characters to pick from that some end up getting abandoned.
Bravely Default II has 23 jobs to master including 4 new ones. As with previous titles, mastering each job for every character is impossible and it's much more rewarding to assign primary and secondary jobs that complement each other as well as satisfying the needs of your whole party. It's great to see that careful customization in order to create a solid party setup is still very important to succeed.
The most obvious difference from the previous titles is that Bravely Default II is on a newer generation console. Therefore, the graphics look great yet the series has retained its painted watercolour art style when you explore towns and it shows off the detail in each village as the camera pulls back whenever you pause and zooms in as you walk. The character models look great and it still amazes me how much detail is put into each job class such as how the outfits are customized to fit each character. The soundtrack is enjoyable, too, and I find myself often getting the battle music and town themes stuck in my head. The only thing that bugged me a little was the amount of loading screens. Unfortunately, Switch is already showing its age when I can boot up a game on PS5 with much higher graphical detail and not see a single loading screen for hours whereas Bravely Default II has me waiting between battles and while exploring.
The classic Brave and Default battle system is back where you select Default to defend and save up a BP point then Brave to spend a BP point and attack. As each character gets their turn, you select their next action from a menu that changes depending on the main and sub jobs available for that character. I found this particular iteration to require more grinding than in previous games as I often found myself entering a dungeon surrounded by enemies marked with glowing red auras signifying that they're levels above me.
Levelling up allows you to increase the level of your character as well as the level of their current main job and as you do so, you'll unlock more active and passive abilities which makes the monotony of grinding feel a little more exciting. The dungeons seem larger than in previous games as well with a small number of chests dotted around with goodies inside so grinding rarely feels completely tedious.
A new element introduced in Bravely Default II is the addition of a card game called Bind and Divide that harkens back to my times playing Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII where you can approach certain NPCs all around the world in the hopes of winning a game and stealing a card or 2. Thankfully, there are a lot of cards to collect here and the game requires quite a bit of strategy to master. It's also another reason to spend even more time in every new area on top of completing the many side-quests and exploring for hidden treasures.
Fans of the Bravely series will have a blast with Bravely Default II. It may not stray far from its predecessors but it does deliver another thoroughly enjoyable journey with updated graphics and a whole new story with loveable characters.
- + Classic top-notch battle system returns with a few cool new jobs
- + Character models and scenery look great
- + The fun card game adds a welcome twist
- - Besides graphics, there are only minor updates from the previous Bravely games
- - Occasionally requires grinding